Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Exodus 2:24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25 God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.

We too have a covenant relationship with God through Christ. I know where I'm headed. I know what has been promised. When life gets tough - when the world demands too much - I sometimes forget. God doesn't. He remembers. He sees. He knows.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Blood Money

When I started doing this blog it really helped me commit to doing quiet time. God honored that commitment and began to move in my life. It has been very exciting, but as God blessed I got busy and distracted. I took what he provided and put it between us.

I had to read a lot tonight to catch up and I thought I would have trouble deciding on what part of it to focus on. The part I have to write about would not have been my first choice. It seems that God is always pointing me to the scripture that requires me to ask difficult questions of myself. Tonight I keep going back to Matthew 26:69 - 27:7. That's right, Peter's denial and Judas' betrayal. I'm going to assume you know Peter's story, so here is the passage about Judas that gets me:

Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, 4 saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” 5 And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. 6 But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since it is blood money.”

I love the progression here. Judas changes his mind, I think that's the heart of repentance. He tells the religious leaders, confession. They tell him its none of their business and that he should deal with it himself. Typical, not many people really want to deal with sin. Its hard to deal with someone who is broken by their sin if your not broken by your own. I love what Judas does next, he takes his sin and leaves it at the alter. If in that moment he had really listened he might have heard the words of Jesus echo from Calvary, "It is finished."

I see so much of myself in Judas and Peter. I'm plagued by wealth and a need to be accepted. Too often I turn God's blessings into blood money. Too often I sugar coat the message of Christ or down play my own Christianity to gain acceptance. I do the other things too, I go to the alter - repent - confess. I hope that what I do next is different. I hope that when I leave the alter I set my eyes on the cross. Judas didn't run to Jesus. He almost got right, then he got dead. That, to me, is the saddest story in the Bible. Judas very well could have been the first Christian. It seems to me that he got two thirds of the way there. He repented, he confessed, but he never believed (at least it doesn't look like it). Had he believed that Christ was who he said he was, had he believed in the power of the blood that was on his hands, he would have left the temple a different man. He couldn't believe. He never understood and it killed him, completely.

It is finished. I am forgiven. Redeemed. Accepted. I am alive, completely.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Well, He Isn't Tame

The past few weeks have been among the most spiritually trying of my life. I can't really tell you why, but I'm exhausted. I shouldn't be, but I am. It feels like the world is piling up on me. I'm frustrated by nothing. Angry at no one. Exhausted by my own apathy. I am not enough. If I do get something right my motivation is usually flawed. This blog is a great example. I feel like its the right thing to do, that I should be accountable, that I need to work this stuff out. The problem is, I really want you to be impressed by it. I stay up really late making sure its the best it can be so you think I'm something. (The funny thing is that I know both of you really well and I'm pretty confident you already like me). I hope that God is glorified by what happens here, but most times when I write I'm more concerned about what you think. That makes this trying like everything else. I feel like there's something building in me, I'm afraid of what it might be. I feel anxious and confused. Something is off, out of place, wrong.

I thought at first this was Satan coming after me, I'm not so sure now. The thing that terrifies me is that it may be God whose coming. I've finally taken the first step, I think that may have been what he was waiting for. He's been faithful before, but He's on the move now. It scares me because I spent years taking the easy way out. I hid, retreated, built walls. I finally found a place that was safe, calm. I had run far enough, I was hidden well enough. I could rest. I think I just jumped up and shouted, "Here I am. Come get me!"

God is bigger than I thought he was and he's coming fast. I'm no longer convinced this process is going to be pleasant. I find myself taking steps back. Hiding in trenches I vacated long ago - reinforcing walls - looking for a way out. What if He reaches me? What if He doesn't? I'm not brave enough to advance. I'm too tired to retreat.

I've heard that if a broken bone doesn't heal right the first time it has to be re-broken so it can be set properly. I'm afraid when I was injured the first time I ran away. I didn't seek God's healing. I hid away in caves of doubt and self pity and tried to mend myself. I thought I had. I was wrong. I've asked for God's healing now, and I may have to be broken - reset. That concerns me a little.

When I sat down to do my quiet time tonight two songs kept running through my head. I was so moved by them that I actually had to stop and sing them (yes, I'm that guy). The first is Sanctuary:
Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary
Pure and holy, tried and true
With thanksgiving, I'll be a living
Sanctuary for You

It occurs to me that if I that's my prayer, if I want those things, to be true I must be tried. It makes this song difficult to sing, but I can't stop. Every time I stop typing to think it replays in my head. I'm pretty sure a big part of me wants to be that living sanctuary. For the rest of me, the part that can't overlook the word tried, God has provided a second song.

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

A Dead Patch of Grass

Scripture: Genesis 32-35; Psalms 18; Matthew 21-22.

I would love to talk about Matthew 22:14, but I'm not sure how to deal with it. I seems to contradict the way I believe salvation works. I would love to pretend I didn't see it, but that's not a habit I'm interested in forming. I'll have to get back to this one.

I love that (in Genesis 32) God wrestles Jacob. It's interesting that God would choose to interact with him that way. Its also interesting to me that the Bible covers it in like 10 verses. God comes to earth in human form and wrestles with a man and then decides to tell the story in 10 verses. It doesn't even get a chapter. It makes me wonder if God comes to earth like that more than we know. How is this not a big deal? I would love to know more about that match. What did God look like? What were his signature moves? Was it like wrestling in the Olympics or channel 125? I can't get over the fact that this isn't more of a story. I once wrestled a buddy for like 45 minutes until we both got tired and quit. I can't tell that story in less than 10 minutes. God can tell about the time He came to earth as a man and wrestled Jacob until morning in like 45 seconds.

The other thing that is strange to me is that God couldn't beat Jacob. Pop his hip out with one tuouch, but not beat him. Its also interesting that just a few verses before the Bible makes it clear that Jacob is very rich and yet he gets God in a headlock and won't let him go until God blesses him. How selfish is Jacob? Honestly, how many female servants to you need? Did he want like 25 more sheep? It seems God and I are always wrestling. My quiet time is quite often physically exhausting. God I and don't take many quiet walks on the beach. The aftermath of our time together more closely resembles a trampled spot in the grass than footprints in the sand. Quiet time is frightening - prayer terrifies me. I never know when God is going to break something. I usually walk away feeling totally defeated, completely broken - unspeakably blessed.

You can't wrestle God and not be completely changed. Jacob did not end up a better version of Jacob, he became someone new. God changed his name. I thought at first that maybe God just told him his real name. Revelations talks about God having a name that he calls you - your true identity. I thought maybe Jacob got to know his ahead of time, but then I remembered that when Rachel was pregnant with Jacob God told her what to name him. Jacob was the right name for him - until he experienced God. He had heard form God before, but experiencing Him like that fundamentally changed who Jacob was. I hope that's what my quite time becomes - an encounter with God. I don't want to read about God, I want to be moved by Him. I don't want to just talk to God, I want to take hold of Him. Being touched and broken is nice, but I want to be changed. I want to experience God. I want a new identity and I'm not letting go until I get it.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

S.O.A.P part Deux

Scripture: Genesis 30-31, Psalms 16-17, Mathew 19-20

: I've been totally blown away by the person of Jesus over the last few days. I must admit that I never spent much time in the Gospels before, I thought I new the story of Jesus. I didn't know it as well as I thought I did. Jesus was not soft, he was not apologetic, he did not shy away from truth. He was nothing short of revolutionary. I once heard someone say that Jesus was the man whose existence was powerful enough to split time. B.C. and A.D. I used to think that was a bit of an over dramatization. I see now that it isn't. The human story consists of two parts, before Jesus - and since. Time itself points to the cross. I've heard these things before, but I never really payed any attention to it. It sounded like Christian rhetoric, like pastors with talking points. Not so much now. I've only spent like two weeks reading the story of Christ, and I'm blown away by how powerful his life and words were. He's a very different man than I thought him to be. (I'm not talking here about his identity as God or the power of the cross. I'm speaking only about what he looked like as a man). Its hard to imagine what Christ would look like today.

I mentioned briefly before that I wonder how Christ would be accepted today. I'm even more nervous about it now. I've begun to notice that Jesus is rarely in conflict with culture or sinners (he confronts sin) it seems to me like Jesus' biggest beef is with established religion. That makes me nervous. Are we the second coming of the Pharisees? Have we changed Christianity into something it was never meant to be? I don't think so, but I think we're flirting with it. We are soft. We change the Gospel message to make it sound appealing - to gain acceptance. We talk about Universalism, we deny the existence of a real hell, we've even gone as far as to equate other gods with our God. (They are not different words for the same thing). Why? So people like us. We conform to society. A lot of us are wimps. Most of the rest are jerks. We reject and condemn society. We make rules that aren't in the Bible and refuse to associate with people that break them. We isolate ourselves. We judge - we attack - we destroy. We need to engage culture without conforming to it.

: Its too easy to pick an extreme. The middle is hard. In the middle you have to engage. The Bible is full of absolutes. The black and white. Its easy to stand on those, its easy to ignore the gray. Its also easy to surrender it. To pretend there is no right answer or only right answers. We should be bold enough, well equipped enough to engage those topics. We should be ready and willing to lovingly discuss the difficult. If we say nothing or offer only apologies the world is lost. We need to lift up the name of Jesus - tell his story - tell our story. The world needs to hear the truth. We can't water down the message. We can't back away from the debate.

Prayer: Father God, help me engage. I want to live like Jesus. Love like Jesus. To have compassion. To be bold, so I'll stand on your truth and fight with your strength until you bring the victory - through the power of Christ in me.


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

When a Body Meet a Body

So, I want to talk tonight about God's ability to make the secular holy. I got a magazine recently that I think kind of blurs the lines between the two and it got me thinking. Over and over in my life God has used secular songs and books to speak to me.

My wife and I went to Houston to visit friends about two years ago. On our first night there my friend and I decided to go to breakfast. We had stayed up talking and it had gotten really late so we decided to finish it at Denny's (I think). We got there at about 2a.m. so we pretty well had the place to ourselves. I don't remember most of the conversation, but one exchange stands out. I had just re-read the Chronicles of Narnia and he had never read them so I was telling him about one of my favorite parts in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. Its a conversation between the beavers and Peter, Susan, and Lucy. The beaver tells the children that Aslan is a lion and Lucy wonders if he's safe. The answer to that question is one of my favorite descriptions of God. The beaver replies, "'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you." I love that. Anyway, I had just repeated that line to my friend when he asked me to look down at my arm, I had chill bumps. He did too. What he said next I wish I could remember verbatim, but I can't. I just know he said that was all the proof he needed of the existence of the Holy Spirit. He said our flesh could never respond to truth like that. I had never noticed before, but I have since. Anyway , that's why I think we can see God in the secular. When we come across something God can use to teach us, no matter where it is, the Holy Spirit in us speaks up. That's it.

So, now that that's out of the way I'd like to tell you about my favorite example of it in my life. I read The Catcher in The Rye my senior year in high school, and to this day its one of my favorite books. In the book the narrator tells about a dream he has, in that dream kids are playing tag in a huge rye field. The problem with the field is its on the edge of a cliff. Every now and then one of the kids accidentally runs out of the rye and over the cliff. The guy in the book thinks the perfect job for him would be to be the guy that stands in the field on the edge of the cliff and catches the children before they fall off. He wants to be the catcher in the rye. When I first read it I thought it was a great picture of who God is and what he does. Its, of course, overly simplistic but it was useful to me. That was the image of God I carried for years. I could run and play without fear, I knew God would keep me from harm. The problem arose when I did get hurt. Had God missed? It sure felt like I was falling. See, the problem with that picture is that God is small and the danger large.

That image had become such a big part of the way I related to God that it took a long time to rework it. When I (or the Holy Spirit in me) did my entire perspective changed. God is not on the cliff. He's standing at the bottom, and he is huge. In my mind the cliff comes up to about his shoulders. It seems like a small thing, but the implications (to me) are far reaching. Now God is bigger than the danger. More importantly, the fall is now as safe as the game. Not where I intended to be, but safe. God still has plenty of time to catch me. In this knowledge the fall itself is exhilarating. Not exactly fun, a little unsettling, but exciting all the same. I am never out of God's reach. Never lost. Never without hope.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Just ask the Bluths

I'm not really going to be able to do this tonight. Its been one of those days and I can't concentrate anymore. I will say that I thought it was interesting in Mathew 14 when Jesus tells the disciples that Elijah has already come and they missed it. It makes me wonder if our generation has done the same. Would we recognize God's profit? Are we so caught up in being new and relevant that we wouldn't recognize truth? Truth hasn't changed - God hasn't changed. Have we reformed so much that we would reject and discredit any man that spoke and acted like Jesus? Could we accept the message despite the messenger? Do we have the ability to lay down our assumptions and see what God is actually doing? I don't know. When I read the words of Jesus I'm blown away, but I have the benefit of living 2000 years this side of the cross. Would Jesus be cool if he came now? Would he have cool black reading glasses? Would he teach in jeans and v-neck sweaters? I assume he would wear sandals. I doubt he would look like us. Would we recognize and accept him if he didn't?

I'm not sure how I got on that. Told you I couldn't concentrate. What I meant to do was tell you what I do when I have trouble praying, like I did tonight. I started doing this several years ago in shear desperation to talk to God. I knew I couldn't ask him for things (didn't trust him) and I thought him disinterested in the every day affairs of my life, so I wasn't sure what to talk to him about. Totally exasperated one night I sat down and recited The Lord's Prayer. It worked. It seemed to me that it got me talking about the things God was interested in - His glory and my sin. I've since felt that The Lord's Prayer is like one of those model homes - It may not be tailored specifically to you, but you can live in it.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

I Have Trusted in Your Steadfast Love

Psalms 13
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?

2 How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

3 Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
4 lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.

5 But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.

6 I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.

I have been dreading this day since I started putting my quiet time on here. I knew I would get to Psalms 13 soon, and I didn't know if I would be able to talk about it. I'm not sure I'm going to be able to do the story justice, but I can't let this passage go by and not tell you how its affected me.

My father died in May of 2002. When dad was sick I really prayed for the first time in my life. I was 21 and had been a Christian since I was like six, but prayer had never seemed all that important until then. I knew my dad was going to be ok. I had decided that God had chosen my dad to use as an example of His grace and healing
power. I knew that we would spend the rest of our lives telling the world how God had rescued my family in our darkest hour. I was never afraid my dad would die, I never
doubted. At least not until the end. The day they had to send an ambulance to take dad to the hospital my faith failed me, or I it. Dad never recovered and neither did I. I'm not sure who I was angrier at- God for letting dad die or myself for ceasing to believe he would stop it (I didn't just stop believing he would, I stopped believing he could).

Its a difficult thing when life shows you something you believed to be impossible, when what you believe seems counter to what you know. I believed God was good, I knew he didn't stop dad from dying. I had a hard time reconciling those things. The year following dad's passing was the most difficult of my life. My wife still refers to it as "the dark days." I never stopped believing in God, I just stopped trusting him. Its impossible to serve a God you don't trust. Your always second guessing, wondering, floundering. At first God continued to speak to me and I ignored him, after a while I discovered I could no longer hear him. About a 6 months after dad died I hit rock bottom. I knew that I had to restore my relationship with God. A funny thing happened the first time I sat down to have time with God, nothing. He was a no-show, and he continued to be a no-show for the next 6 months. I felt alone, abandoned, lost in the dark.

Some years earlier a friend spent the night at the house (I think it was prom). Anyway, my
room was in the basement and had no windows. I woke up in the middle of the night and apparently made some sort of noise to indicate to my buddy that I was, in fact, awake. He asked if I could turn the lamp on. I made fun of him for being scared of the dark. He assured me that he wasn't scared of the dark, he was just a little disoriented and wanted to know where everything was. I tried to explain it to him, but in the pitch dark there was nothing to use as a marker. When I finally turned the lamp on he looked around, said ok, and went back to sleep.

Four years later, in that very same room, I asked God to do the same for me. Well, I didn't
really ask. I told him that I had had enough, that I was going to try one last time to hear from him, and that if I didn't get an answer I was going to assume he was done with me and never try again. When I opened my Bible it was to Psalms 13.

I almost couldn't believe what I was reading. David, a man after God's own heart, had been where I was. God had hidden from David. That night I decided that at the end of my journey - no matter what - I wanted to be able to stand before God and repeat the words of David in verse 5, "I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation."

God didn't turn the light on for me that night, but he cracked the door. I'm afraid I'm still in my valley. The passage is difficult, but the direction is clear. I stumble often, but I have a light to guide me. I am on the path to healing - somewhere, off in the distance, I know God is leading.

A side note: Several months after that I began to loose my way again. During that time I took my wife to an Andrew Peterson concert for Valentine's day and he sang a song called The Silence of God.

It's enough to drive a man crazy; it'll break a man's faith
It's enough to make him wonder if he's ever been sane
When he's bleating for comfort from Thy staff and Thy rod
And the heaven's only answer is the silence of God

It'll shake a man's timbers when he loses his heart
When he has to remember what broke him apart
This yoke may be easy, but this burden is not
When the crying fields are frozen by the silence of God

And if a man has got to listen to the voices of the mob
Who are reeling in the throes of all the happiness they've got
When they tell you all their troubles have been nailed up to that cross
Then what about the times when even followers get lost?
'Cause we all get lost sometimes...

There's a statue of Jesus on a monastery knoll
In the hills of Kentucky, all quiet and cold
And He's kneeling in the garden, as silent as a Stone
All His friends are sleeping and He's weeping all alone

And the man of all sorrows, he never forgot
What sorrow is carried by the hearts that he bought
So when the questions dissolve into the silence of God
The aching may remain, but the breaking does not
The aching may remain, but the breaking does not
In the holy, lonesome echo of the silence of God

God is faithful, and the valley has been filled with markers. Gentle reminders that I am not alone.


Scripture: Genesis 22-24, Psalms 11-12, Matthew 13-14. I missed yesterday so I had some catching up to do.

I had a pretty good day today. A good friend turned 24 today, and I got to hang out with him some. He got a Wii for Christmas and I went over this afternoon to play some golf on it. It is the most realistic video game I've ever played. You actually have to swing like you would if you were playing golf. The thing that amazed me the most was how accurate it is. I have a slight fade (or a nasty slice) on my shot and the game picked it up. It was neat, of course it meant I sucked at the game almost as much as I suck at real golf. The game did a great job getting it as close to accurate as possible. We played nine holes and at times I think we forgot we were in his living room and not out on the course. There were the same high fives on good shots and shouting at puts that lipped out. It was a great time. The weather was beautiful today and since you don't get many days in the high 50s in January we decided to go to the driving range for a while. (I still can't hit my driver, but I was encouraged by how well I hit my irons). We were at the range for about an hour and on the way home I couldn't help but think about how being at the range beat the pants off playing that video game. Try as they might, there are some things you just can't simulate: the smell of the grass, the feel of the club in your hands, and the sound and feel of a well struck shot.

I have great friends, and tonight I got to hang out with them (birthday party). We don't party quite like we used to, there were three babies and two pregnant women there tonight, but I enjoy the fellowship as much as ever. If I wrote all night I wouldn't be able to tell you how much I love my friends. We have had the opportunity to really do life together. (One of the guys there tonight has been my best friend since the 5th grade. He was the person I told after my first kiss with the girl who is now my wife, he was there the day my dad died, the day I got married, and the day my daughter was born. We've played ball together, stood by each other at weddings, sat in hospital waiting rooms; there has been literally nothing of significance happen in my life that he hasn't been there for. Actually one of the other guys there tonight did all those things to, except we met in the 9th grade and I didn't tell him about the kiss until after school the next day. I'm not sure why I included this except that I think its pretty special and I love those guys). God has blessed me with friendship and fellowship that few people ever experience. Tonight, during my quiet time, I couldn't help but think about how its just a simulation of the real thing.

I wasn't created to fellowship with them, I was created (among other things) for fellowship with God. I am a member of God's community, his family. I think the things we enjoy most in this life are just echoes of eternity. In the same way I enjoy the video game because it simulates real golf, I enjoy relationships because they feel like and remind me of the community I have in Christ. Just like no video game can re-create the feel of a great golf shot, no amount of laughter and friendship can replace being accepted and loved by the One who created you. I believe God gives us the beautiful things of this life so our heats survive until eternity. I hope we don't get so caught up in the game that we miss what we were really created for.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

A House Divided

Scripture: Gen. 20-21, Ps 10, Mat 12

I've been a little bothered by something today and it is addressed in Mathew 12 so I'm just going to talk about that. In Mathew 12:25 Jesus talks about a house divided against itself not being able to stand. I'm afraid there's a little bit of that going on among Christians today.

I was doing some research on-line today because, well I needed to, and what I came across concerned me a little. I knew that within the Christian faith there are countless different viewpoints on almost every aspect of Christianity. It seems sometimes were looking for things to disagree about. I think what surprised me the most was the amount of tension involved in some of these debates. I guess I was spoiled growing up by the dialogue I had with my friends. We disagreed quite often, but the discussions arising from those disagreements were always friendly and edifying. I always felt like there was growth in those conversations. That's not what I saw out there today. Peoples lives are being ruined, relationships broken, and our witness is being undermined. We would rather argue amongst ourselves than reach out to a lost world.

I believe that the Bible is a living document capable, through the Holy Spirit, of speaking to different people in different ways. Is it naive of me to think that God reveals the part of himself to me that I need to see to and the part of himself to you that you need to see? Could we all be seeing different sides to the same truth? I don't know, I do think problems arise when the finite try to define the infinite. You can never fully understand God or know all his truth, hopefully faith fills in the gaps.

I'm obviously not intelligent enough or well enough informed to really engage in much of the debate, but I know this: I am broken. Always have been. I have no authority over sin or death. I know that God does. I know that all roads or the road to heaven leads through the cross of Christ. I know that I am a child of the most high God. I am redeemed, justified, forgiven. I am saved. That's enough for me.


Scripture: Gen 18-19; Ps 9; Matt 11

Observation: This is an over simplification, but the thing that stands out to me in all of these passages in the awesome power of God's will. God's plan is simply going to be carried out. It seems that leaves us with three options: stand in opposition (Sodom), get out of the way (Lot), or take hold (Abraham).

Application: It seems to often in my life that I've been Lot. I would never knowingly stand in the way of God's advancing kingdom, but I'm afraid that I have been content to begrudgingly let it pass by. I can think of plenty of times in my life where God has had to move me in order to advance without destroying me. I'm thankful he took the time to do so.

I'm encouraged that it doesn't seem to be that difficult to be Abraham in the story. He doubted God, tried it his own way, and openly questioned God to his face. I guess that means that the moral of the story is not, go be Abraham. I think that the primary difference between Abraham and lot was that Abraham was willing to be used by God where Lot was content to simply not disobey him. There seems to be a real difference between obedience and lack of disobedience. One way makes you the father of nations while the other makes you the father to your grandchildren.

I think this is where Mathew 11:12 comes into play. Its talking about the kingdom of heaven and says that "the violent take it by force." To simply not disobey takes nothing, but to actively reject the world and take hold of God's kingdom requires something more.

Prayer: Father God forgive me when I allow your kingdom to pass me by. Too often I am governed by fear and apathy. I'm content to simply stay out of your way. I pray for the wisdom to recognize the perfection of your will and the strength to violently take hold of your advancing kingdom.

A Little Housekeeping

I noticed tonight that I am on the S.O.A.P blogroll, so I feel inclined to warn you that this is not one of those. This is an account of my quiet time. I love the S.O.A.P idea and think its great, but I don't function exactly like that so mine will be a little different. I will say that doing this blog has been very good for me. I haven't been doing it long, but I can already see God working through it. Isn't it amazing how powerful the smallest things can be in when offered to a mighty God?

Tonight I will be doing the blog in S.O.A.P format as a special treat to all of you. Plus I just spent some time with the pastor and I really like him right now so I feel inclined to try it his way (its usually better than mine).

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


Tonight I read Genesis 16 & 17, Psalms 8, and Mathew 10. I should probably focus on Mathew 10, but I'm too tired to really concentrate tonight so I'm going to leave it alone.

I'm going to talk about Psalms 8 because it gives me an opportunity to tell a story. As I read David talking about how moved he was and how insignificant he felt looking at the stars I'm reminded of a ski trip I took to Colorado like 6 years ago. It was one of the funnest trips I've ever taken, 5 guys driving 21 hours to ski for 1 week. I love the mountains and have spent a good bit of time in the Smokies, but nothing prepared me for what we saw out there.

The first place we skied was Loveland mountain. Its right on I-70 west of Denver. The peak of that mountain is at like 13,000 ft. and is right on the continental divide. Four of us (the four that though we could survive the trip down) took the lift to the top. It was like a Monday morning and no one was up there so we took our skies off and went under the rope and over the peak. What greeted us was breathtaking. We just stood there, no one spoke for several minutes. We were at the top of the world. Standing at over 13,ooo feet on the continental divide looking west out across the Rockies. I believe we all have moments when God speaks to us. That was one of mine. There are a handful of moments in my life that I feel defined by (I've already talked about the day on the lake and I'm sure the rest will come out right here very soon), this is one of them. Maybe I was too young when I got saved to experience God the way I did that day but for the first time I understood that what I saw was more than what God can do, in some way it is who He is.

I'm not sure what else to say about that day, I know there are no words to describe what it looked like or how it made me feel. I can tell you this: when the world seems dark and ugly, when all that is in me cries out for something beautiful, I go back. Loveland is my proof that God can't help but be beautiful. Its the portion of earth beneath my feet.

That last line is from an Ed Cash song. I suggest you listen to everything he ever recorded.

What God Desires

Tonight I read from Genesis 13-15, Psalms 7, and Mathew 9. I would love to talk about all the text, but I was so struck by Mathew 9:13b, "I desire mercy..." Jesus just told us what he desires from us. The creator of the universe, the almighty God, just said I want this. That should make it too easy. We should just give it to him. Mercy, Jesus wants mercy.

I began to wonder what mercy actually looks like so I did what anyone of us would do, I googled it. Just searched for an image of mercy. What I found was a bunch of cheesy pictures of Jesus in shiny robes with light all about and a stupid grin on his face. Is that really what the world thinks mercy looks like? Not to be denied a clear picture of what mercy looks like (I knew there had to be one on the Internet) I looked up synonyms. I liked kindness the best so I did an image search for it. The first thing I saw was the poster I have on the top left. That's nice, I thought, but what should it look like in my life. While I was thinking about that I had a slide show of all my pictures playing on the sidebar of my computer, and the image I have on the right popped up. Is it really that simple? Can it be that the God of the universe simply wants me to treat everyone with the same love, compassion, and care that I show my daughter? If it is, can we ever get the job done?

Monday, January 7, 2008


There's a moment We all come to In our own time and Our own space. Where all that we've done We can undo If our heart's In the right place. On a prayer, in a song I hear your voice and It keeps me hanging on. Raining down Against the wind I'm reaching out till We reach the circle's end. When you come Back to me again And again I see My yesterday's in front of me. Unfolding like a mystery. You're changing all that is And used to be. -Garth Brooks-

Tonight I read Genesis and Mathew, but I'm not going to talk about them. I'm going to tell you a story, I like those better anyway. Its a story that is forever etched in my memory and one God often brings me back to. Today I was reminded in song, its always subtle, but the image takes forever to leave me.

I should preface this by telling you that over the lasts five years I've more often than not found myself in a spiritual wasteland. Often times God's silence is deafening. Its been so quiet and so lonely that I welcome even the slightest change. Today, for the the first time in a while, I could almost smell the sweet aroma of a distant storm. I know its coming and I bet its violent. I'm so excited. I'm not afraid of these storms because it was in a very literal storm that I first experienced what it must feel like to wrestle the Lion.

My family had a couple of Wave Runners the summer after I graduate High School and I spent every weekend on the lake. I had a great tan. I had a friend that went out with me most of the time, and that weekend was no different. My buddy and I put in at a small cove near where 140 crosses the Tennessee river. That day we headed north to Knoxville. It had been overcast when we put in and they were calling for rain, but we were 18 and the end of summer was quickly approaching. We had gotten about 20 minutes from the ramp when it starting pouring. We turned around to head back, but the storm beat us there. The sky was black, the water dark, and at 50mph the rain stung like needles. I was terrified.

Had the ride back to the ramp been 5 minutes shorter the story would probably end there, but it wasn't. About the time we passed under the bridge something in me began to change. I found my terror could longer hold back my laughter. Could I actually be enjoying this? Am I crazy? At that moment I looked over at my buddy to find that the only thing more evident than the fear in his eyes was the smile on his face. I couldn't hear it over the storm and the machines, but I knew he was laughing. As soon as he saw me look over he broke the wave runner free of the water and did the most beautiful 360 you'll ever see. I had to match it. We spent the next 4 hours on the lake in what at times was a pretty powerful thunderstorm. When it got really bad we would go under the bridge and climb up on the concrete supports to catch our breath and brag about the cool tricks we had done.

He and I are still very close friends and to me that remains one of the defining moments in our friendship and in my life. That day in the midst of the storm I found laughter, fellowship, and rest. When life gets hard, when the storm rolls in, I remember that day. I slow down, pause, and listen for the laughter.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

tonight's prayer

Father God,
Thank you for bringing me to this place. Thank you for using this week to remind me that I have no control. I thank you that I am now in a place where I remember that you are all there is. You have authored the events in my life in such a way as to bring me this place in this hour. I pray that tonight, through your strength and grace, I'm able to take the first step in a journey that leads me to a place where I'm able to walk with purpose beside you. I pray that tomorrow I have the will and determination that take the second step in that journey. As I go to your word now I pray that you would reveal yourself to me through it. Move me, touch me, remind me. Father God, Guide what I write here tonight. I pray that anyone who sees this page finds a clear image of you in a broken picture of me.


I'm not sure why I felt like sharing this, but I did so here it is.

It Starts

This is my first attempt at writing about my quiet time, its also my first attempt at at quiet time in a while so I apologize if this gets ugly. I found a bible reading plan online and read what it had for today. I was in Luke 8, Genesis 12, and Psalms 6.

We'll begin in Luke 8. Its the parable of the sower. After reading the parable I decided it would be good to figure out which kind of seed represents me. I couldn't pick one so I wandered about why that might be for a moment. I noticed that all the seeds, with the exception of the seeds on the path, involved salvation and some sort of growth. I decided I'm not a path seed, I'm saved. I'm pretty sure I'm not a rock seed. I'm saved, been through a good bit of testing, and I still love Jesus. I don't think I've grown enough to determine if I'm among thorns or in good soil. Hopefully this has started the watering process and we'll be able to tell where I am very soon.